Agustín Meléndez joined our team at BAKS Distribution and Manera America a few months ago. Based in San Francisco, CA, he can’t get enough of surfing Ocean Beach in the winter and has gradually worked his way up the ranks amongst a small crowd who surf Ocean Beach on what they call big OB days when it’s 10ft and over. We caught up with him to learn more about the OB experience, what it means to him, his move to Manera and what wetsuit he chooses for big winter days in the Pacific Ocean.
Where are you from?
I was born in the south side of Puerto Rico in a small town called Arroyo.
How did you first get into surfing?
My dad rented a retail space and adjacent to his business was a surf shop. When we were kids we would spend a lot of time there watching videos and hearing stories while my dad finished work. That is were the initial inspiration came from. We also lived in front of a popular beach break where I got to start bodysurfing and bodyboarding at a really young age.
What brought you to San Francisco?
I got to visit SF several times on snowboarding trips to Tahoe and really enjoyed it. I eventually moved to Tahoe first, and after a season there, I moved to SF in 2012. Several good friends from college lived in the city and coming from NYC, SF was a bit slower pace but still with all the benefits of a cosmopolitan city. SF was an ideal location for its proximity to the mountains and a big beach break with few crowds (at least at the time). I once surfed dawn patrol, later had a snowboard session at Sierra of Tahoe, and mountain biked on the way back all within less than 36 hours.
You are part of a small group that surfs 10ft+ days at Ocean Beach. What got you into surfing big waves?
I love surfing bigger waves because of the mindset the ocean forces you to be in. Just to feel the energy of long period swell under you is enough for me. You don’t get long period swell like this in the Caribbean. You have to drop your ego and any other thoughts in your mind and your attention shifts 100% to reading the ocean, controlling your breathing, trying to stay calm and also listening to what nature is telling you. It is chaos at times but also meditative, peaceful, and reflective.
OB is a very humbling place in particular. On bigger days the crowds are smaller and people tend to be more careful and follow surf etiquette which makes the experience even better. It is also great that on those days you recognize most faces out there. It feels like a family and everyone is watching out for one another. There is also a satisfaction that comes from all the preparation that goes into it when you actually have a good session at solid OB.
With strong rips and powerful currents, surfing big days at OB can be quite dangerous. What draws you to Ocean Beach on those 10ft+ days and what’s it like out there?
It is normal for you to paddle out and be swept 5-6 blocks by the time you make it to the lineup. The currents and energy that come from longer period swell and relatively large tidal swings make it really challenging. Not to mention the beating you get in the shore break, then the inside bar, and then you hope to not take a set to the head when you finally make it out. You pretty much do not stop paddling the whole time, but the payoff is incredible. It’s the satisfaction that comes from not quitting and from believing in yourself. It’s been slow in the making, eleven years now surfing OB and 5 years of figuring out adequate gear for bigger surf.
What inspires you to surf big waves?
I find it incredibly beautiful seeing first hand how nature works. To understand all the natural events that have to occur and line up for those days to happen is incredible. Then you are immersed in it, seeing massive barrels from the side and hearing the roar of the ocean. It does not stop mesmerizing me. Also, as mentioned before, the feeling that comes from working hard and then be able to snag one incredible wave or have the barrel of your life. You can’t beat that.
What is your most memorable wave/session from a big day at OB?
Just recently I got a magic board from Eric Arakawa in Hawaii. It’s an 8’ RP tweaked out for OB. On January 15th this year I paddled out with my good friend and felt confident. I had ridden the board and knew it was good. I paddled out for only 2 hours and managed to catch 6 waves, 4 of which were gems. I didn’t get any good barrels but for the amount of time spent out I was really stoked with the wave count. It is normal to be out there for hours on bigger days and catch only one or two waves.
You joined the BAKS Distribution and Manera America team a few months back as Operations Coordinator. What’s your favorite part of the gig?
The team here is passionate and are all stoked. It is hard work but jokes are always flowing at any given moment. It is also exciting to be part of Manera and see the company grow. I’m seeing more and more logos in the line up and the feedback is incredible. I’m also enjoying getting immersed and learning about kites, foils, and winging. It’s always been a dream of mine to get into windsports and now I work with it.
You choose the Manera Magma suit for winters in SF. Why do you like this wetsuit so much?
The Magma 5/4/3 hooded is my choice for the middle of the winter in SF. I have never worn a 5/4 that fits me so well and is so flexible and light. The cut and design is really well thought out. I love the 3mm panel in the underarm area where most of the resistance comes from when paddling. That’s a big part of why I can paddle in this wetsuit for hours and not get tired as quickly as I would get even with high end 4/3’s I’ve used from other companies.
If you could choose your top 3 essential products from the Manera lineup, what would they be?
Magma 5/4/3, X10D 4/3 Hooded, and the Magma 5mm Split toe boot.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I love playing music as much as I love doing pretty much anything else:)